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The Cyclist's Training Manual: Fitness and Skills for Every Rider

The Cyclist's Training Manual: Fitness and Skills for Every Rider

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The Cyclist's Training Manual: Fitness and Skills for Every Rider

381 pagine
3 ore
Jun 30, 2013


The Cyclist's Training Manual is the definitive guide to fitness for cycling, suitable for everyone from complete beginners looking to build fitness for their first charity event through to experienced cyclists looking to improve competitive performance. Starting with the basic components of fitness, this step-by-step handbook then guides you through everything you need to know to train and compete at your best, including how to organise your training, training methods, nutrition, health and how to avoid the most common cycling injuries. It also provides specialised training programmes and techniques for all cycling disciplines, such as road racing, time trials, mountain biking, sprint rides and challenge rides, as well as specific advice for novices, juniors, women and veterans. Quotes, tips and Q&A sessions from leading cyclists and team coaches are also featured.
Jun 30, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

Guy Andrews is an experienced freelance cycling writer who has worked for all the major UK cycling magazines. He currently runs Rouleur, a bi-monthly magazine for racing cyclists, which also publishes a number of books. He is the author of Mountain Bike Maintenance and The Cyclist's Training Manual (A&C Black) and The Rough Guide to Cycling in London and is a competitive road biker.

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The Cyclist's Training Manual - Guy Andrews




Chapter 1 – The Basics

Chapter 2 – Cycling Skills

Chapter 3 – Components of Fitness

Chapter 4 – Choosing Your Races

Chapter 5 – Developing Training Plans

Chapter 6 – Keeping Healthy



When you see the huge pack of riders in full flight coming into a stage finish of the Tour de France, see us suffer over the high mountains or empty ourselves in a time trial...

It’s the training that gets us there that you don’t see!

Training for five, six, seven hours a day in all weathers for years and years; the sacrifice, the dedication – this is what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

Winning Paris Roubaix in 2004 was my payback for the days as a teenager where I sat studying a huge poster of double-Roubaix-winner Gilbert Duclos Lassalle on my bedroom wall. Like all youngsters I used to say to myself, ‘One day I will win that race!’

To stand on the podium lofting a huge lump of stone that you get for winning the queen of the classics was, for me, the reward for all the years that I have dedicated myself to my training.

You will achieve some success by just riding your bike, but you will miss something. Sometimes you won’t be able to put your finger on what it was... Structure!

I am famous for my work ethic, but even as a professional I admit I sometimes lacked structure. I have a coach who plans my training to the letter, and I know how planning and structuring your training correctly makes a huge difference to your performance.

This book will prove invaluable to you in improving your performance and enjoyment of your cycling. It not only gives you all you need to know about skills and training – whatever your event – but it does so with a structured approach. Follow that structure and you will see the benefits.

Good Luck!

Magnus Backstedt


Welcome to the cyclist’s training manual

Cycling is a unique sport – most of us are taught the basics at an early age, often before we are introduced to any other sport. And that’s it, no more help, apart from maybe a cycling proficiency test at school. Which is a shame, as anyone – no matter what their age or ability – can improve and get more enjoyment from their time on a bike, with just a little bit of effort and planning.

This book is a response to the fact that there is very little information available to help new and experienced riders improve, on both technical and fitness levels. Until now, the information that has been available has been guarded by elite coaches – which is not that helpful to anyone other than the pro riders. The Cyclist’s Training Manual is the first resource aimed at every cyclist – no matter what their experience or aspirations – which brings together everything needed to make big improvements to both skill and fitness levels.

Who is this book for?

Quite simply, we have written this book for anyone who wants to improve in their cycling. Perhaps you’re looking for a new challenge and are coming to cycling for the first time. Or maybe you want to try a new branch of cycle sport, and fancy trading in your racer for a mountain bike. Or you may have been riding in your discipline for years and are looking for some fresh ideas to help improve your results. If you are one of these people – or anyone else for that matter – then this is the book for you. All you need is an interest in cycling.

What does this book cover?

We have put the book together so that it can either be read from start to finish or you can dip in and out of chapters – depending on your experience and the advice you are looking for. The chapters progress in a logical order, but there are plenty of top tips scattered throughout that will make interesting reading if you just have a few minutes to kill before heading out on your bike.

Whichever way you use the book, we hope it helps to make you a better rider – and, at the very least, helps you to enjoy your cycling more.

• Chapter 1: the basics – this chapter covers everything from buying your bike and looking after it, through what to take on your rides, to finding the best places to ride and choosing the best conditions to start your riding.

• Chapter 2: cycling skills – this chapter looks at the skills that each cycling discipline requires. It aims to help you to find your potential best discipline by looking at the skills you have and also shows you what skills you need to develop in order to take to another discipline. It then gives you guidance and advice on how to hone these skills.

• Chapter 3: components of fitness – in a similar way to Chapter 2, this chapter looks at the specific elements of fitness that each discipline requires. It also provides an overview of fitness and training that will be essential in designing your training programmes (see Chapter 5).

• Chapter 4: choosing your races – once you have established your skill and fitness levels, the next stage is to decide whether the discipline that you are suited to is the one for you. This chapter offers an overview of each discipline, the type of riding you can do and gives you some useful guidance on how to get ahead in each – from race tactics to where to find other riders with the same interests.

• Chapter 5: developing training plans – this chapter takes you through a step-by-step process to develop a training programme and routine for your specific needs. It will take into account your cycling discipline, the level that you intend to ride at and all your lifestyle factors – family and work commitments, facilities and location, etc. It also contains a series of training programmes for every discipline that you can either use straight from the book, or tailor to your individual needs.

• Chapter 6: keeping healthy – it’s no use having the skills and fitness levels to ride if you are never in shape to compete. The final chapter is all about keeping yourself healthy – from nutritional and hydration advice, to an A–Z of the most common injuries and illnesses that you are likely to experience as a cyclist. The aim of this chapter is very much prevention rather than cure!

Which bicycle sport is for you?

We cover all the main cycling disciplines in this book – what follows is a quick overview of each, and the type of events that you’ll find.

Road racing

The world’s finest racers take on the incredibly tough Grand Tours like the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, events that bring cycle racing to a larger audience and where the participants are at the peak of physical shape. At an entry level, road racing is perhaps the hardest sport to start, which also makes it the most satisfying and rewarding. Road racing is not only about skill and fitness, it also involves tactics and – at the highest level – it requires teamwork to make the advantage. We’ve explained the basics here, so that you will have a better idea when you start out how to reach your goals.

Time trialling

The ‘race of truth’ has long been a feature of stage races and can be the deciding factor in winning overall. All the great road riders – Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Lance Armstrong – were magnificent riders against the clock. It requires meticulous preparation and specific training – all of which we cover. However it’s a simple form of bicycle sport too – all you need is a bike and a stopwatch.


On the face of it, track racing seems terrifying and dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is probably the safest introduction to racing for children – they have a habit of having less fear and better reactions than adults and they can learn their skills and technique on the track without the dangers of busy traffic. It gives young riders the freedom to really get stuck in. It is also a fantastic way to develop speed and technique for any cyclist and is worth a try. Don’t be scared – it’s great fun!

Mountain bike cross country

Mountain biking is in many ways, bizarrely, similar to track racing – it requires high levels of skill and coordination and is exhilarating, fast and furious. It’s also one of the easiest disciplines of cycle sport to access, with races and training days a regular feature of all local mountain bike clubs and teams. There are fun and youth entry-level races at all mountain bike events and the emphasis is on participation and ‘having a go’.

Mountain bike downhill

This is an off-shoot of cross country and developed as a direct result of wanting more thrills (and spills) while testing a rider’s skill and technique against the clock. Downhill racers still need to be fit as pedalling fast and powerfully will add the essential speed and, perhaps, a podium place. No surprise then that the international downhill racers take their fitness very seriously.


On the face of it this sport seems a little odd – riding road bikes in the mud with skinny off-road tyres and having to tackle obstacles and short run ups. It was originally invented to allow road racers to keep fit in the winter and develop technique. It is now a massive sport in it’s own right in northern Europe. Like mountain biking, ‘cross’ – as it is also known – can be really easy to begin with as most events will allow you to use a mountain bike and all have entry level races for beginners.


For many cyclists the idea of racing isn’t the main motivator, but a challenge is still a prerequisite for motivation. Cyclo-sportive events are timed, but usually cover long distances or courses of big races, such as the ‘Etape’ which is set on a stage of the year’s Tour de France. They are not races as such but do allow riders to test their ability and endurance. With this discipline we also include the many long distance charity rides that take place the world over.


The Basics


This first chapter covers everything from buying your bike and looking after it, through to what to take on your rides, finding the best places to ride and choosing the best conditions to start your riding. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned rider, it really is worth spending some time reading these pages – these are the building blocks of all the training guidance and programmes that follow. New riders should use the headings as a checklist to make sure that you have everything covered. Experienced cyclists – we hope you will be reminded of a few golden rules that you may have forgotten along the way and perhaps also pick up some new ideas.

The bike

The first of our basics is your bike. For most cyclists this falls somewhere between a revered art icon and a well-loved companion. However, depending on how you choose it and how you set it up, your bike has the potential to be either your best friend or your nemesis.

Before you buy

There are several things that should be considered when buying a new bike. Remember, your bike needs to be an extension of your body and to fit you perfectly, so above all, you must be honest about your aspirations and your physical shape. Before you rush out and spend several thousand pounds on your new pride and joy, stop to consider the following questions.

1. Is the bike right for your type of riding – does it fulfill your aspirations and is it suitable for the kind of riding you do (or intend to do)?

2. Does the riding position suit your physical proportions?

3. Does anything hurt (yes, other than your legs from the effort!) when you ride your bike?

If you don’t ask these questions – and are not truthful with yourself when answering them – you may end up buying a bike based on passion or fashion, rather than function. You may also find that you are not in the ideal physical shape to get the most out of the bike and will end up sore and uncomfortable after a few hours riding, which is likely to result in you abandoning the bike and wasting a good deal of cash.

And, despite what your long-term riding aspirations may be, don’t be tempted to try to set yourself up as a pro rider. Pro bike riders are professional because they are extremely talented athletes. You have probably realised by now (or you wouldn’t be reading this book) that to make it into the pro peloton you have to be able to ride a bike very fast and for a very long time. And that isn’t easy (although with a bit of luck, this book will help you towards that goal).

Flexibility and the physical ability required to ride 35,000–40,000km (20,000–25,000 mi.) a year means that the bike set-up for a pro rider rides is never going to be suitable for the rider who rides a fraction of that distance, and can barely touch their toes. So be realistic about the bike you ride – in reality it might be slowing you down.

Bike set-up

Professional bike riders are a fastidious lot. The great Eddy Merckx was so fussy about his saddle height he often carried an Allen key when racing to adjust it ‘on the fly’ when descending mountains. Nothing much has changed – pro riders today are still very particular about their bike’s set-up.

Despite this, there is only so much tinkering that you can do yourself. The best bet is to get advice – as with everything in this sport, this can range from the simple to the complex. At the very least an experienced rider should be able to help you set up a bike. Professional bike fitting and analysis is now very popular and readily available, so get an appointment at your local specialist cycle shop. Physiologists can also study your movement on the bike and a trained bike fitter will have experience of a variety of body types and riding aspirations, so they are well worth a visit. In other words: don’t guess at it. Seek help, especially before you spend a pile of money on the wrong-sized frame or inappropriate bike.

Lance Armstrong has a classic road style set-up that allows him to pedal and breathe effectively in comfort.


It takes a few weeks to adapt to a new bike set-up. This is why experienced riders only adjust saddle height and pedal cleats by very small increments, so that their body doesn’t experience any ‘after shock’ from big changes in set-up. Try to stick with one set-up as much as possible to avoid injury and to make sure your muscles are used to riding in a set position. It is not easy to copy exactly the same set-up without having identical bikes but try and keep it as close as is possible.

Before you start to tweak your set up to find the perfect bike fit, get a good overall picture of your riding style. And remember that all good things come to those who wait – unless you are incredibly lucky you will not stumble across your ideal set-up immediately; it will take time.

To assess your current position you can do several things yourself:

Step 1 – Video yourself during a turbo session

This will highlight any abnormalities and problems as they happen. Ask a (patient) friend to do the filming and then they can concentrate on different parts of your body for a few minutes or so.

Note: as the session increases in intensity you will revert to your worst habits. Your trunk (torso) may begin to roll from side to side, the shoulders can start to rock and you may over-reach for the pedals as your hips start to rock from side to side. It is also likely that you will shift further and further forward (or back) in the saddle.

Other things to look out for are your pedalling style and feet orientation. See how you can adapt the bike to counter these habits, perhaps by using a lower or higher saddle, or a shorter stem.

Step 2 – Look at your handlebar tape

Where is it most worn away? Where do you spend most of your riding time? Most road riders will be on the tops of the handlebars or on the lever hoods for quick access to the brakes and gears. If you find you ride most of the time with outstretched arms with your fingers just touching the bars then it’s highly likely your bike is way too long. If you spend all the time on the drops, your handlebars may be too high.

Step 3 – Take a good look at how your bike is set up

Measure and make a record of the following critical dimensions:

a) Handlebar to saddle drop – use a long level or get a broom handle (it has to be dead straight) and measure the drop from the saddle to the centre of the handlebar. Ignore the pro bike set-up for a moment, this should be no greater than 10cm (4in.), preferably a lot less. For mountain biking or touring, riders usually have the saddle and handlebars close to equal heights. For cyclo-cross, the handlebars may be marginally lower than the saddle, but not by much. The longer you spend in the saddle, the less extreme you’ll want the difference in height between handlebars and saddle.

b) Tip of the saddle to the centre of the handlebar – this measurement is defined by your trunk length, arm reach and arm length.

c) Tip of the saddle to the centre of each control lever (these should be the same obviously) – again this is a reach measurement, however, it can vary enormously depending on handlebar and component manufacturers.

d) The centre of saddle to the centre of the bottom bracket (your saddle height).

e) Also – crank length (see more about this in Chapter 2), handlebar type, width, reach and drop.


If you have a large stomach this will stop you bending and reaching lower as your legs have to travel around your rotundness on every up-stroke

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